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    Blogs — Advice

    What's the fuss with BPA?

    What's the fuss with BPA?

    There's a lot of baby products out there claiming to be BPA free.  What is BPA and what harm can it cause?  Are all baby products BPA free?  These were some of the questions in my mind when I first had a baby.  After some research I realised that all baby bottles and cups were BPA free but not necessarily everything else.  The potential harm of BPA encouraged us to start using less plastic feeding utensils for the kids and since we have started our journey towards a plastic free life and zero waste life.  Here's a brief background on BPA.

    Bisphenol A (BPA) is often used with other materials as an industrial chemical to make plastics used for water bottles, coatings of metal food containers and bottle tops. BPA may leach in small amounts into food and drinks stored in materials containing the substance. The safety is widely disputed. In 2011 and 2012 The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the United State’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) respectively banned its use in baby bottles, infant sippy cups and later, in the lining of infant formula packaging (although this was done out of abandonment rather than safety concerns).

    Even though both authorities continue to support its safety in low levels exposed from food there have been increasing expressions of safety concerns and they are continuing to look into new research because there have been studies in young animals and humans that show that BPA can be harmful.

    As recent as June 2017 The Member State Committee (MSC)* supported to additionally identify BPA as a substance of very high concern (SVHC) because of its endocrine disrupting properties which may cause serious effects to human health.

    Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that mimic the body’s hormones and produce a harmful effect on development, reproduction as well as having neurological and immune effects.

    It seems there isn’t enough evidence for the authorities to state BPA is unsafe but there isn’t evidence to say it is safe either.

    What can you do to limit BPA absorption?

    • Some, but not all, plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA. Avoid using these plastics if possible.
    • When containers containing BPA are heated, the level of BPA rises in the food therefore do not heat these containers in the microwave or even put very hot or boiling foods and liquids into these containers.
    • Throw out all bottles that are scratched as not only can they harbour bacteria but if they contain BPA then there is more chance BPA can leach.

    1. Food and Drug Administration www.fda.gov
    2. European Food Safety Authority www.efsa.europa.eu
    3. European Chemical Agency https://echa.europa.eu/

    *MSC seeks unanimous agreement on identification of substances for the list of SVHC

    Quick natural ways to clean the baby bottles

    Quick natural ways to clean the baby bottles

    Learning how to feed a baby may be a huge excitement but it is also a very responsible task. Parents should make sure that the baby bottles are always extra clean. This doesn’t mean purchasing chemical detergents or running an almost empty dishwasher several times per day. There are many natural ways to clean the baby bottles and I guarantee that you will be nicely surprised with the result. You can achieve the required pristine level of cleanliness with hot water, baking soda and vinegar. Keep in mind that it is important to sanitise not only the baby bottles but also the place where you store them.

    Here are several ways to take care of the baby bottles, which will bring you peace of mind:

    One of the easiest natural ways to clean the baby bottles is to boil a big pot of water and add 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Stir the mixture and place all bottles parts in it. let them soak overnight. The next morning take the parts out of the pot, put them in another big vessel and rinse with water, making sure that the baking soda is removed completely. After that, let the parts dry on a paper towel. Use the bottles directly or put them in their rightful place.

    Another easy solution is scrubbing the bottles with natural soap and a bottle brush. It cleans out the formula residue completely. Dissolve a small amount of the natural soap in hot water, dip the brush in the mixture and start rubbing the bottles with it. Use a detachable small brush to clean the nipples, bacteria often hide there. Clean all bottle components and after that rinse them with a mixture made of boiled water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar. 

    Here is how you can eliminate the sweet milk smell that all bottles gain with time. First wash the inside of the bottle, using hot water, natural soap and a bottle brush. After that, rinse the bottle and fill it halfway with a mixture of hot water and 1 tablespoon of baking soda. Close the bottle and shake for several minutes. Then rinse it and check if the sour milk smell is eliminated. If necessary, repeat the procedure with the baking soda one more time.

    Proper drying is crucial for germ-free baby bottles. Make sure that the bottles, nipples and valves are completely dry before you feed your baby or put them away. Humidity attracts bacteria. Investing in a drying rack is a smart solution. It holds all bottle parts and keeps the countertops dry. As every parent, you also want to give your baby the best from the very start. These natural ways will help you to do that and give you peace of mind.

    Please note these are cleaning not sterilisation methods.  It is recommended by the NHS that bottles are sterilised after cleaning until your baby is 12 months old. 

    How and why I spend longer folding up clothes to save time in the long term

    How and why I spend longer folding up clothes to save time in the long term

    I’m not an overly tidy person but I do like to see things tidy or not see them at all.  Toys are easy enough to be tidied away and the mess of our toys is usually hidden from view because we use the ever so practical and great Ikea Kallax.  It doesn’t really matter that the toys are randomly tossed into the boxes or cupboards since the way our kids play with their toys, it would all simply be taken all out again the next day anyway.  However, when it comes to clothes, it used to drive me mad that I would fold the kids’ clothes away and after just one day it would be messy again. I can't blame anybody else except myself since it was me who'd be rummaging through the drawers looking for a particular top or grabbing any combination of clothing I could reach first. 

    Do my kids look scruffy?

    Late last year, we had some friends stay with us and as anyone with kids will know, washing and clothes drying on the clothes horse becomes part of your household decor. One evening, I came home from work and was 'pleasantly' shocked to find a pile of clothes neatly folded into small tiny parcels. My initials thoughts were ‘this is somebody with too much time on their hands’ and then embarrassingly how untidy they must think I am. They had obviously seen the state of the kids’ wardrobes and drawers and I felt bad incase they thought it represented the state of my kids and how they are presented. Oh, the shame.  Still. I thanked and appreciated the kind gesture. I put the neatly folded clothes away into the drawers, too worried incase they fell out of place and I daren't do a wash load again until they had left!

    6 months later they came to visit again and I was actually looking forward to having someone put some order into the kids' drawers and fold away their clothes. I realised, when you have kids, any help you can get is a bonus.  It was one less job for me to do. 

    The Marie Kondo way

    It dawned on me that, going forward, I should try to do what my friend did.  She raved on about this style of folding clothes so that the clothes would be stacked in a row rather than on top of each other.  This way each item of clothing could be viewed when a drawer was pulled out.  It is a method by Marie Kondo - a way of folding up your clothes into small parcels and placed side by side in sections, rows or columns so that you can see each time of clothing.

    How my life has changed

    6 months on and I’m still using her method. It does take a little longer to fold and put away the clothes but the drawers are tidy and they stay tidy.  I don’t need to rummage through piles of stacked clothes to look for an item. The Marie Kondo way means I can glance through the clothes when I open the drawers. I’ve converted and even for my own clothes.

    This is the reason I spend longer folding up clothes so I can save time from having to refold them again and again. It's definitely worth putting the time in to do it properly and definitely saves time in the long run.

    Why I went from social butterfly to hermit

    Why I went from social butterfly to hermit

    Probably a slight exaggeration but for most of my adult life, whether it be at uni, work, playing sport, having dinner, meeting friends for coffee or drinks or dancing into the early hours, I spent it out.  The place where I rented was less a home than somewhere to sleep and get ready to go somewhere.  I would often pack something in every evening and often have back to back engagements.  After we bought a home, in my first pregnancy, except when the first trimester simply wiped me out and I often found myself fallen asleep on the sofa at 8pm, I was still going out regularly. 

    Then my life changed. Forever.  No longer could I stay out all day and night.  No longer the spontaneity.  No longer the freedom.  From the moment my eldest was born I was confined to my house for a month.  Except for medical appointments I did not leave my house.  My mum tried to restrict me to the confines of my room in the first week after birth but I did wander around the house albeit slowly.  It was the middle of winter, cold, dreary and dark by 4pm and I actually welcomed the ‘excuse’ to stay in with my baby.  I was not looking forward to go out for the first time for my little boy’s one month birthday celebration.  The drizzly rain didn’t help. I did it but was glad to get back indoors.

    After my month’s confinement I took the baby out and about during the day, we slowly built up a social life with other mummies and babies but the evenings I was always at home or at my parents’.  Partly because my other half works ridiculously long and unsociable hours, my friends with kids also stayed at home, and my friends without kids didn’t want to do baby friendly things in the evenings - taking a baby to the bar is probably not high up on the ‘great parenting list’.  Pumping was a nightmare so it didn’t really encourage me to express.  We tried taking little one out for dinner a few times but he was so unsettled that it made dinner out more of a chore than staying in.  So except on a handful of times I stopped going out in the evenings unless it was a special occasion. 

    Of course there were times when I would have loved to catch up with my friends baby free but on the whole I didn’t really pine to go out.  I didn’t envy my friends who could spontaneously pop to Paris for a weekend. I had time to sit down - on my own.  I could wash up undisturbed. I could have a shower in peace!.  I could sleep.  I was so tired that I slept shortly after the baby slept in the evenings. I can imagine if you’re one of the first in your circle of friends to have children how left out it could feel.  No one else understands that you can’t meet up like you used to and the main way to keep in touch is through whatsapp.  I was lucky enough that most of my friends had babies within a year of each other so we were all in the same boat.  We kept each other entertained with our baby stories,  we vented to each other and we supported each other.  I was lucky to have a great support network so I didn’t feel too lonely in the evenings when hubby was at work.

    For mums who don’t have friends with kids there are so many groups that you can join to meet local mums. I found it so much easier to chat to someone with a child just because you immediately have something in common.  The eye contact. The acknowledge of ‘I know what you’re going through’.  All it takes is ‘how old is your baby’ and there you go. You can start a friendship. 

    Real tips from parents on weaning

    Real tips from parents on weaning

    What I try to remember every time I feed my baby is that food is mostly for exploration and fun before the age of 1.  To allow them to try new tastes and textures. They get most of their nutrition from either breast or formula so don’t stress about how much they eat. So our tip on weaning is to let the kids have fun, experiment and enjoy food. Forcing children to eat will not make them like it anymore, infant, it may make feel eating is a chore rather than to enjoy.

    Here are some tips from other parents on weaning:

    “I carry a small, compact sharp pair of scissors to cut up Claudia’s food.”  Ammy, Melbourne

    “Use an old shower curtain under the high chair to collect the mess. Washable too. And embrace mess.” Mimi, London

    “The Chicco Pocket Snack chair is def a life saver in terms of having a clean tray every time we go out, it's space saving for home use/easy to clean or like us we leave it in the car for eating out and round people’s house, we took it to Hong Kong with us so baby can always sit at the table and eat with us, it can be used as a booster (without tray) or like a high chair.” Cindy, London

    “Bring out a garlic press with you for meals for instant baby food ... it's a bit heavy but really worked for Isabelle.” Sofia, London

    "Although it may seem like a chore set a 3-4 week rolling meal plan. Takes the stress out of thinking what to have everyday and also helps you prepare in advance (i.e. wash and chop evening before).  Also make use of the freezer - make in big batches, a simple tomato and basil sauce can be used for pizza, pasta and lasagne. If using lentils and pulses cook in big quantities and freeze. Freshly frozen still retains all the nutrients. Think outside the box and get creative, a pizza doesn't need to be made on a traditional base, use the homemade sauce on pittas, nan breads, breakfast muffins or even a slice of bread then add lots of healthy vegetables, ready in 20 mins" Hansa, Birmingham
    "Preparation and forward planning is key. My biggest challenge is deciding what to make! Once I know what I am making I can then prep for it. I tend to cook so that it lasts for two meals. During the week, mainly cook lentils and pulses which I can soak in morn and cook in eve with roti, rice or salads. Cooking does take up most of my eve but I would rather spend time and cook fresh as much as possible. It's not easy juggling everything but not impossible either." Ruby, Reading